Frequent Thanksgiving freakouts (and ways to solve them)
November 16th, 2010
03:00 AM ET
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Here are several Thanksgiving issues about which you could choose to freak out. Please don't. It will just make your guests uncomfortable, and if you have a dog, it will probably unnerve him or her.

Aaaacccckkkk! There will be a VEGETARIAN! In my home!

Relax. Vegetarians have the same basic DNA structure and chemical makeup as omnivores, and have been known to successfully co-exist and even breed with them. There's just one difference: they do not eat meat, and some of them - vegans - do not use or consume animal products of any kind. Most of these people are NOT doing this specifically to annoy and inconvenience you or make your day less delicious, we swear. And it's totally not cool or gracious to invite them over and once they get there, tell them they can just "eat around" or "pick out" bits of meat that are in the food you serve them. They'll feel slighted and disrespected. We're speaking from personal experience here.

Your solution: if you invite a vegetarian to Thanksgiving dinner, have some non-meat items available for consumption. There are entire classes of food, the cooking of which does not involve the use of animal products of any kind. They're monumentally delicious and not actually poisonous to omnivores.

Roasted vegetables like Brussels sprouts, squash and sweet potatoes just need a little bit of olive, canola or nut oil and a pinch of Kosher salt to emphasize their natural deliciousness. Set aside a separate batch of stuffing bread (or dressing - depending upon where you live) to soften in vegetable broth or stock rather than poultry. Heck – make a gigantic winter vegetable salad or a big bowl of olive oil mashed potatoes and watch your gobbler-chomping guests get all jealous.

The sides are inevitably the best part of the Thanksgiving meal. It's infinitely more hospitable to have extras of these that everyone in attendance can eat, than to overload on the meat-based dishes and leave a guest sitting in the corner, gnawing on a dinner roll with their stomach rumbling. Again - been there and we would have rather just not been invited.

zOMG! Everyone wants to bring guests! What if I RUN OUT of FOOD?!?

First off - if a guest (or their guest) offers to bring a dish and you don't take them up on it, you kinda, sorta deserve this fret. As we've discussed before - you're a host, not a martyr, and people just really do want to help. Let them.

If they don't offer to bring anything or to help somehow - grrrrrrrr. That's not necessarily the person you'd like to have as a repeat visitor to your home, though there are always mitigating circumstance (lack of a kitchen or strapped finances, etc.). If you fear this may be the case, over-buy - but sensibly.

Sweet potatoes, baked or mashed potatoes, winter squash, canned biscuits and the makings for mac and cheese are fairly inexpensive, and they'll either keep for the next few weeks as you continue your holiday entertaining, or just be used in the course of everyday cooking. They're also filling and can seriously stretch a meal for just a little bit of money - just don't chop or pop them until you can determine if they'll be needed that day.

It also doesn't hurt to have a bag of apples on hand. They keep for ages, and if push comes to shove, can be halved or sliced and roasted or sauteed with butter, then sprinkled with cinnamon, brown sugar, cloves and nutmeg for a sweet side or supplementary dessert.

Oh and wine, booze or beer? That'll keep, and you'll be glad of it when the rest of the holiday entertaining season rolls around.

NOOOOOOO! Grandpa is going to start telling offensive jokes, Mom will criticize my choice in careers and clothing and Uncle Stu is bound to pass out naked on the lawn...again.

Yup. Probably. And there's probably nothing you can do to change them at this point; you can only control how you react.

Assign yourself a vital task that allows you to, like Martha Stewart, just focus on your salad and concentrate on your non-problematic family members and the other non-Thanksgiving 364 days of the year. Come armed with endless bits of trivia and celebrity gossip and change the topic to something crowd-pleasing and slightly less loaded - like Charlie Sheen's and/or Lindsay Lohan's most recent arrest, the cancellation of "Cathy," or the utterly darling thing the dog and/or cat is doing at the moment.

Or, go for broke and argue your point. Even if it means you're disinvited from next year's T-Day soiree really, if they're treating you this way, is that such a tremendous tragedy? They may be blood kin, but family is relative, and your closest friends probably won't critique your haircut or your signature Tofurky casserole...too much.

Sweet mother of poultry, the turkey isn't thawed all the way! WHYYYYYYYYY MEEEEEEE?!?!?

If you're reading this at any point in the week before Thanksgiving, you have no reason to panic. Sez the USDA's website:

Plan ahead: allow approximately 24 hours for each 4 to 5 pounds in a refrigerator set at 40 °F or below.

Easy peasy, no? But hey - stuff happens to all of us. You may suddenly discover that Netflix on Demand is streaming all seven season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and lose all concept of reality for a while (again, speaking from personal experience). You may get distracted by a sick dog or the sniffles or work and suddenly wake up on Thanksgiving morning in a cold sweat, realizing that your meal bird is still in the deep freeze.

All is not lost - just slowed down a tad.

That same, handy USDA site suggests a cold water thaw.

Allow about 30 minutes per pound.

First be sure the turkey is in a leak-proof plastic bag to prevent cross-contamination and to prevent the turkey from absorbing water, resulting in a watery product.

Submerge the wrapped turkey in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the turkey is thawed. Cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed.

Last ditch? The microwave - if you've got a bitty bird and a bodacious cooking chamber.

Follow the microwave oven manufacturer's instruction when defrosting a turkey. Plan to cook it immediately after thawing because some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during microwaving. Holding partially cooked food is not recommended because any bacteria present wouldn't have been destroyed.

A turkey thawed in the microwave must be cooked immediately.

But just for a sec, let's imagine that the doomsday scenario should strike. The bird could be used to hammer in tent stakes, your guests were so underfed, they had to make a White Castle run - and they tripped over Uncle Stu where he'd tumbled down pantsless by the hydrangeas. Are these people, your friends and family, really going to love you any less?

They are, ideally, rooting for you and ready to pitch in at a moment's notice - even if you end up as the butt of most of their Thanksgiving jokes for the next decade or two. If they give you any lip, just sweetly, politely let 'em know that they're more than welcome to go right ahead and Tofurky themselves next year.

Perfect pie crust
Don't fear the vegan - feed them!
Quick, simple vegetable sides
How to cook a turkey
- All our best Thanksgiving advice

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soundoff (121 Responses)
  1. Fox me? Fox you!

    Brussel sprouts and delicious in the same sentence? Heck no!

    November 24, 2011 at 10:07 am |
  2. Don

    I notice that a number of vegetarians say that they have no problem with going to a Thanksgiving dinner where others will be eating meat. Pardon me for asking, but how many of you would invite a non-vegetarian to a Thanksgiving (or other) dinner, and if they requested a meat dish, you would make one?

    November 21, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Aloisae

      Whenever I've hosted a Thanksgiving meal there have normally been omnivores invited. Usually there is a turkey. However, I can understand why somebody with religious or other moral obligations to killing animals for food would refuse to provide one. Your analogy, though, is flawed since inviting a vegetarian to Thanksgiving dinner doesn't require that the host/hostess refrain from serving meat or to serve dishes that omnivores wouldn't eat. In most cases, it just requires a bit of thought concerning the selection and preparation of side dishes to ensure that a sufficient number of the dishes can be eaten by the vegetarian/vegan guest to make a meal and letting the guest with a restricted diet know which ones might have hidden animal products. A better analogy would be accommodating guests that have other dietary restrictions such as allergies, lactose or gluten intolerance, etc. Personally, I probably would make a gluten free meal since that is fairly simple these days but if, for example, a guest couldn't eat cranberries that wouldn't mean I'd leave the cranberry sauce off the table but I wouldn't put cranberries in the salad/stuffing/vegetable dishes/breads/desserts/etc. and that guest could just eat everything except the cranberry sauce.

      November 21, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  3. JB

    We are vegan. We always eat Thanksgiving dinner at home. We have a tofurky, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberries, pumpkin pie, rolls, etc. I've tried having dinner at the house of omnivore's... it's not enjoyable. Especially when they continuously refer to the day as "Turkey Day" instead of Thanksgiving.

    November 21, 2010 at 9:58 pm |
    • Righton

      I eat turkey and enjoy it. I hope it didn't suffer to get to my plate, but that's why it's good to be higher up on the food chain.

      And, oh yeah, grow a pair.

      November 21, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • evilguppy

      Vegan here, too. Thanksgiving, for us is a very low key affair, loaded with scrumptious vegan dishes, and zero obnoxious relatives. Quite relaxing, actually.

      November 21, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  4. RichardHead

    *hit-can't spell this morning.

    November 18, 2010 at 9:10 am |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants

      At least you didn't yell at us, circa Truth yesterday. X)

      November 18, 2010 at 9:18 am |
  5. RichardHead

    I normally hang mine from the light over the dinner table-yet not low enough where my quests might hot their heads on it.

    November 18, 2010 at 9:09 am |
  6. tootsie

    If you have a vegetarian guest, please do not put the turkey carcass on the table. Revolting!

    November 18, 2010 at 8:47 am |
    • grumpyguy

      If you are a vegetarian, don't put yourself in revolting situations.

      November 1, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  7. Jason

    I've been vegetarian for about 15 years (well I'm actually pescetarian now since I began eating fish 3 years ago) and I've never had a problem with others eating meat. I fully acknowledge that meat is a food source; it's just not for me. I don't like it and it doesn't appeal to me. That being said, I have dinner at my parents' house for Thanksgiving and my mother will prepare baked ziti for me while everyone else has turkey. I can even have the stuffing since she'll bake some outside of the turkey for me. It's never been an inconvenience to them and I would never want to be. I'm more likely to just have a salad somewhere than prevent people from enjoying food. I prefer to be flexible and make do rather than force others to adjust for my needs.

    November 18, 2010 at 8:12 am |
  8. Oodoodanoo

    My family is vegetarian (Indian), so we traditionally cook a lasagna. Once in a while, it's enchiladas.

    November 17, 2010 at 8:22 pm |
  9. Sharon

    I have been a vegetarian all my life–never liked the idea of eating animals. But I would never expect someone to change their Thanksgiving menu for me. There's plenty to eat–mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, vegies. Just don't eat the turkey if you don't want any!

    November 17, 2010 at 4:39 pm |
    • Aloisae

      It sounds like you have been extremely fortunate. I once attended a Thanksgiving dinner where almost everything in the elaborate and beautifully presented meal, which the hostess had obviously invested a lot of time and effort in preparing, had pork or gelatin in it. It was a very uncomfortable situation since it turned out that the hostess was the only one who ate most of the dishes.. and the dish I had brought despite her strenuous objections was the only one everyone could eat between those with religious dietary restrictions and the vegetarians. Personally, I'm not only vegetarian by choice, I'm also allergic to pork (as in a medically confirmed, life-threatening allergy for which I've been hospitalized in the past though strangely the only food allergy/sensitivity I have) which the hostess did know before hand (see the previously mentioned hospitalization reference....) and which was the reason I asked specifically at the dinner about any pork products hidden in dishes (with the ensuring awkwardness for all those with pork free diets). Since then I've definitely never taken for granted the idea that a vegetarian (or any other guest with dietary restrictions) can have plenty to eat in terms of side dishes at Thanksgiving. Luckily, I'm now living back closer to my family and, while the meal includes several dishes for the omnivores that I won't eat, there are always plenty of sides provided by other family members/guests that I can eat in addition to the dishes I contribute.

      November 21, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  10. JoeBleaux

    I have a better solution. Don't invite them to dinner. Let them eat their nuts and twigs somewhere else.

    November 17, 2010 at 1:20 pm |
  11. sharmistha das

    Actually Vegetarians do not eat Meat Fish or Eggs... . "There's just one difference: they do not eat meat" is not an accurate statement !!

    November 17, 2010 at 12:51 pm |
    • Audrey

      There are different types of vegetarians, sharmistha das:

      Lacto-ovo: Does eat dairy products and eggs, but no meat products (including fish, poutry, gelatin, meat stocks, etc.). Most vegetarians in the U.S. fall into this category.

      Lacto: Does eat dairy, but no eggs or meat products (most Hindu vegetarians are Lacto)

      Ovo: Does eat eggs, but not dairy products or meat products. This is a rarer situation...often it happens because a particular person is lactose-intolerant or has dairy allergies.

      Vegan: Does not eat animal products of any kind.

      November 17, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
  12. Tim

    I would sooner invite a member of Al Queda to Thanksgiving than a vegan.

    November 17, 2010 at 12:30 pm |
    • Suz


      November 17, 2010 at 12:45 pm |
  13. Suz

    I'm glad to see the vegetarian thing addressed here. I'm a vegetarian, and friends and family know about it. That being said, I don't ever expect any one of those people to make special accommodations for me – EVER. Many do, but some just don't/won't (my stepmother – ugh), and that's cool. That's why I always BRING a vegetarian dish with me... not just for myself, but to share with everyone else, too, pot-luck style. I'll be making a ginger-garlic Tofurky roast to bring this year. :)

    November 17, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
  14. Yer Mom

    I don't think it's justified for meat eaters to be so hostile toward vegetarians. However, I have a clue for some of the vegetarians of the world. If you make snide comments, such as "some of us just like flavorful food", thereby implying that meatloaf is not flavorful, or that the hostess who cooked the turkey did not live up to your flavor standards, then you are going to offend people. Here's another clue for many vegetarians: it's one thing to accomodate a person who doesn't eat meat. It's quite another to accomodate a person who has a long list of self-imposed dietary restrictions, based on some weird set of nutritional beliefs that is largely wrong. For instance, if you refuse to eat meat, dairy, egg, gelatin, flour, potatoes, squash, rice, peas, black-eyed peas, or peanuts, then you are a PITA and people will not want to cook for you. So, basically, being a vegetarian is fine, but a LOT of vegetarians are also very picky, self-righteous people who annoy others in many ways.

    November 16, 2010 at 10:26 pm |
    • Audrey

      "But a LOT of vegetarians are also very picky, self-righteous people who annoy others in many ways"...and, as this thread has shown, so are a lot of meat eaters. In fact, they seem to be taking the prize in that department. Take a look at the negative comments in this thread. Go back and read all of them, one by one. Count up the negative comments about lifestyle choices in general and about particular foods. How many have come from vegetarians?

      The meat eating contingent really is not coming off as taking the moral high ground here. In fact, if I had to draw my impression of meat eaters from this thread (which, fortunately, I do not), I'd see them as the kind of self-righteous, self-centered individuals who couldn't be bothered to prepare a single dish for a friend or family member with dietary restrictions...someone they'd invited to their home...if those restrictions conflicted with their idea of what constitutes a perfect holiday dinner. They're coming across, frankly, as people who can't stand to eat or prepare a single dish, out of an entire meal, that doesn't contain some form of meat. Who's being picky, here?

      "Vegetarians creep me out."

      "Stay home and eat your bland food"

      "Choke on your cheese"

      Now, the nice thing is, I know a lot of meat eaters (in fact, most of the people I know eat meat)...enough to know that the vocal majority on this thread does NOT represent the meat eating population as a whole. In fact, it doesn't even come close. Most of the meat eaters I know are friendly and accepting toward other lifestyles. Live and let live, and all that. You don't try to convert me; I won't try to convert you...let's all get along and enjoy a meal together. But that's not the impression any reasonable person would take away from the comments posted here.

      November 17, 2010 at 1:26 am |
      • JFT

        Audrey, a lot of omnivores have been exposed to very self-righteous vegetarians and vegans in daily life, and many of them are pretty sick of the high and mighty attitude. This is not to say that you have expressed such an attitude, though the general tenor of your comments is that meat-eaters consume bland and boring food while you cook all kinds of wonderful, flavourful meals. You're just cloaking your sense of superiority in less rude terms than the woman who turned to me the other day, sniffed disdainfully and said "ewwww, YOU eat MEAT!" There are tons of flavourful meat dishes out there, just as there are vegetarian dishes that have all the taste and texture of pablum. Trying to insinuate that your vegetarian cooking is superior in taste to anything prepared with meat is just as rude in its own way as the woman who tried to embarrass me in public – it's just more subtle and passive aggressive.

        November 17, 2010 at 6:36 am |
      • ER

        Audrey- Quit repeating yourself. Alright already "I'm a good cook."

        November 17, 2010 at 9:42 am |
      • Artemis

        By the tone of your response, I'm assuming you fall in the 'ominivore' catagory here, so I'm not sure how much you know about vegetarian cooking and the diet. "Flavorful" in vegetarian terms refers to the seasonings added to the foods. Most meat-based dishes typically do not have complex seasonings or multiple spices (and I don't mean the six or eight seasonings that might be in a dish–there are some vegetarian dishes that have sixteen or eighteen different herbs and spices added, at specific times in the cooking process). The cooking with meat uses the juice from the meat do do much of the flavoring; the herbs and spices added are used to enhance the meat and not necessarily create a specific taste. This is not always the case with soy or vegetable-based dishes because fruits and vegetables are typically simpler foods than meat, and if someone is looking for something spicy, or more complex, than more seasonings are typically required for a more intense taste. It's this situation that sometimes makes the vegetarian meals I cook in demand when I go to pot-luck dinners, because I make things other people don't, and they like the variety.

        I, also, can respect someone else's choice for diet, but, I confess, I'm one of those people who let my hosts know ahead of time of food restrictions. I have a couple of immune-deficiency diseases that have resulted in my body rejecting some foods, and developing food allergies to some others. It's more than just a food preference: the wrong ingredient in the mashed potatos will send me to the hospital. So I let them know my restrictions, and ask them what I should bring to accomodate my own needs. And, no, I've never had a problem with it, because my friends and family would rather put out a veggie dish without butter in it than make me stay away from the gathering of loved ones.

        November 17, 2010 at 8:51 pm |
    • Suz

      I don't think that being discriminating when it comes to eating animals/animal products makes one "self-righteous." It just means that they're thinking about what they're putting in their mouths, that's all.

      November 17, 2010 at 11:44 am |
      • Lexagon

        It doesn't make them self-righteous, no, it just seems to be strongly correlated.

        November 1, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  15. CBeeee

    I usually don't have turkey 'cause I'm full from the carbs! MMMMmmm carbs. One time I had a really good thxgiving dinner at a vegetarian's home and they had the best soy/fake turkey. Anyone have any recommendations in that area?

    November 16, 2010 at 7:38 pm |
    • Suz

      Tofurky is the best imitation turkey for my money – and About dot com's vegetarian section has some great preparation ideas outside of the normal, "basic prep" instructions that come along with the Tofurkys. I also saw a recipe somewhere for making imitation turkey out of pressed tofu, though I can't speak to how that tastes as I've not tried it – I'm sure you could flex your Google skills and find something along those lines.

      November 17, 2010 at 12:24 pm |
  16. yeager12

    We have over twenty people in our family that meet for holiday dinners and there are a lot of likes and dislikes among them. Over the years we have learned to adjust. My middle daughter's husband doesn't like my stuffing so she brings a box of the kind he likes and fixes it. Most like home-made noodles so my youngest daughter brings them and I cook the kind others like. Ham and turkey are served at each holiday meal and so on. With all the left overs we can send food home with everyone and still have some for us. It is a little crazy but it works and everyone is happy.

    November 16, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  17. hookapooka

    I could care less if a vegetarian comes for Thanksgiving dinner.Be advised however,that I will be eating turkey like a Viking that has just conquered the dining room!

    November 16, 2010 at 4:23 pm |
  18. Matt

    Why do people get so bent out of shape if they encounter a vegetarian? I have been a vegetarian for 15 years, some people I know only found out a couple of years ago.

    What about people that are of a religion that doesn't allow them to eat beef? Are they evil? or people that are lactose intolarent(sp), are they spawn of Satan? I never understood the aversion to vegetarians. After all, it's the cheese pizza that is devoured first at company pizza parties.

    I can't stand people that try to tell me that their belief system is the one true way to go through life.

    November 16, 2010 at 3:17 pm |
    • Audrey

      Amen, and well-said.

      That's true about the pizzas, as well. I used to have to place the order for a weekly company pizza party, and my boss would always say "order five meat combos, one veggie combo, and one plain cheese." Of course, the veggie combo and plain cheese were the first to go, week after week...and often we'd end up tossing out most of one of the meat combos after it had sat in the fridge for several days. One week I suggested we change the order: three veggie combos, two plain cheese, and two meat combos. My boss was skeptical, but everyone was much happier (and we didn't end up with any leftover pizza to toss out)

      November 16, 2010 at 4:05 pm |
      • Snow

        You sure are hell bent on getting us to make the switch. Aint' happening. Go choke on your cheese. :)

        November 16, 2010 at 4:29 pm |
      • Meatlover

        Audrey, your dinner sounds great. I am a meat and potatoes person but love veg food. Have my own garden and all that and never have had an issue accomidating anyone. Stick to what you know best and where do I need to be for thankgiving i have to try some of the food you describe.

        November 16, 2010 at 7:40 pm |
      • Audrey

        Meateater, a chara, show up in my kitchen and I'll be happy to prepare all of it for you. And I won't even get upset if you bring along a turkey leg or two. I am probably the most mellow vegetarian you will ever meet (and a damn fine cook to boot).

        Want mango chutney or chili pickle with your channa masala?

        November 17, 2010 at 1:32 am |
    • JoeBleaux

      Human beings evolved a large brain because our ancestors were hunters. You don't need a lot of intelligence to sneak up on a leaf. Eating meat is why we are intelligent. Vegitarians are de-evolving. Of course, they're not to bright in the first place or they wouldn't be vegitarians... Good way to get anemia.

      November 17, 2010 at 1:23 pm |
      • Artemis

        Sounds like some scientific facts were taken out of context. Meat-eating contributed to humans evolving, but its hardly going to be the deciding vote when taking into consideration the millions of years, and a considerable number of other things going on, that made humans get this way. That said, no–it's not a guarantee to have any deficiencies because of being a vegetarian. The trouble is, most Western cultures don't have any long-standing traditions of balanced vegetarian cooking (unlike some Asian and Middle Eastern cultures, where it is more common), so it usually comes off as boring, or weird, or strange enough to bother some people.
        Remember: there are intolerant and close-minded people from all walks of life. Anyone "militantly" for one thing or another isn't someone worth bothering with because they're not going to listen to what you say, anyway, without feeling threatened or insulted.

        November 17, 2010 at 8:34 pm |
    • Veganman

      Here's your answer: People are threatened by Veg's because it is NOT what the post war, baby boomer mentality and tradition dictate. Most of America's traditions come from this era where CHANGE=DANGER.( Being different is wrong.)

      Even if that meat is killing you (which it is), not eating it would seem worse. ..Makes perfect an idiot.

      November 18, 2010 at 7:39 am |
  19. jillmarie

    It really is about spending time with family and reflcting on what gratitude is. I focus on conversation and catching up with loved ones. Everyone is different, and I find most people do worry about me (a veg) having enough to eat. I joke that "really, does it look like I eat all that much? (I'm a size 2 on a bad day) and tell them I'll be fine- let's all start with a glass of wine to toast the holidays, shall we?"
    This always eases everyone's mind!

    November 16, 2010 at 3:04 pm |
  20. sharc

    I have accommodated vegans, vegetarians and omnivores for Thanksgiving for many years now. It really isn't that hard. I put more focus and energy into the sides to make sure everyone can enjoy them. I let others contribute to the meal as they wish. I do cook a turkey but the stuffing is not cooked in the bird and it is vegan. Lots of sides are already vegan or vegetarian already or can be changed in small ways to make them that way. For me, it's really just about all of us being together around the dinner table, having great conversation, laughs and creating lasting memories. We keep the booze flowing and have been known to have an Uncle Stu moment every now and then. Relax and enjoy your guests no matter what they choose to eat or not eat.

    November 16, 2010 at 2:32 pm |
  21. TryAnythingOnce

    She don't eat meat, but she sure like to bone!

    November 16, 2010 at 2:19 pm |
  22. Moost

    The vegetarian thing is no problem. Ask yourself this simple question: Would (or has) this person cook meat for me if I were a guest at their table? If the answer is "no" then you should not feel the need to bend over backwards to accommodate their deviancy from courtesy. Prepare your traditional meal and let them forage through your belief structure just like they would expect you to forage through theirs if the situation were reversed.

    I have a feeling that there are a lot of understanding vegetarians though that would offer to bring their own food or will allow you to bring your own to their event. I just have not met any yet. Nothing says "Happy Thanksgiving" like a militant vegetarian coming in to educate the rubes about their superior life style and try to save us from our evil one.

    November 16, 2010 at 1:59 pm |
    • Suz

      I always bring a veg dish to share at an omni gathering – that way, nobody has to fret about accommodating me... and I won't starve! :) (And nine times out of ten, my veg dish will get polished off by the omnis!)

      November 17, 2010 at 12:28 pm |
      • Jaime

        "(And nine times out of ten, my veg dish will get polished off by the omnis!)" I love how every vegetarian has to say something to that effect when they proclaim they bring their own veggie food. Yes, there are always people like my dad who say they need meat at every meal, but that doesn't mean he doesn't like sweet potatoes. Surprise surprise, we can enjoy mashed potatoes with turkey.

        I'm sure everyone just stuffed themselves on the food you brought, and ignored everything that had meat in it...wait no, they probably polished off everything. Except the green been casserole. There's always someone that brings it, and everybody gets about a spoonful, because, well, you have to, and then quickly moves on to everything else. Poor, lonely, sad green bean casserole.

        November 17, 2010 at 7:54 pm |
      • Jaime

        I'm sorry, that's like 9th time I've seen something to that effect. My comment is really not directed at you in particular. The back and forth idiocies get to me after a while, from the militant vegans saying all meat eaters are going to heck to the trollish carnivores with their moronic responses. I should really stop reading forum posts.

        November 17, 2010 at 7:59 pm |
    • Veganman

      Deviancy? Go F*ck yourself.

      November 18, 2010 at 7:33 am |
  23. TheatreGladys

    What a bunch of narrow-minded morons some of you are. There actually are people who are vegetarians because they just don't like meat, just like I'm sure there are many omnivores who don't like vegetables. Grow up and get over yourselves. My family has been having "vegetarian" Thanksgivings for over 20 years and even the (few) omnivores in the family freely admit they don't miss the meat. None of us liked cooking it, it always took up too much room in the kitchen and fridge and there was always too much meat and not enough sides left over. I've never liked meat/poultry/fish so it was a no-brainer to just quit wasting my money buying it and trying to make it palatable.

    November 16, 2010 at 1:18 pm |
    • deedee

      You're a moron. Get a life.

      November 16, 2010 at 1:27 pm |
      • TheatreGladys

        Obviously you're one of those narrow-minded morons. You're the one who needs a life and leave the rest of us alone.

        November 16, 2010 at 1:30 pm |
  24. jim

    I been a Vagetarian from birth

    November 16, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
  25. The_Mick

    There have always been a large number of vegetarian foods available on most families' Thanksgiving tables! What I would do, if a vegetarian or vegan was going to eat with us is ask him/her to suggest a main dish they would like and which the entire table may enjoy sampling. In fact, my sister-in-law hosts our extended family's Thanksgiving dinner, bakes the Turkey, and asks or assigns dishes for others to bring. I'm bringing Keilbasa and Sauer Kraut and Cauliflower with Cheese Sauce and either the Polish Apricot Cookies that Sara Moulton recently made on GMA (or Today?) or Banana Breads with dried cherrys and walnuts. Leave out the Polish sausage and that's vegetarian. Leave out the Cheese, too, and it's vegan.

    November 16, 2010 at 12:59 pm |
  26. Audrey

    To Jdizzle McHammerpants: My daughter is 17 years old, and eats whatever she chooses. When she's at home, she eats what I cook, and that is always going to be vegetarian food. When she's out and about, she eats as she pleases. Like most people, however, she has a preference for the food she was raised on.

    Frankly, that's a little like asking an Indian "do you force your children to eat Indian food?"

    November 16, 2010 at 12:57 pm |
    • Snow

      So you don't accommodate meat eaters? 2-way street. And you've been arguing that vegetarians should be accommodated at Thanksgiving. You clearly said your 17yr old "eats what you make."

      November 16, 2010 at 4:26 pm |
      • Audrey

        Well, the nice thing is, I have yet to meet anyone who didn't love my cooking (as the family foodie, I'm the one who's most often asked to cook at family gatherings) so it's never been a problem. And I wouldn't object to someone who really, truly felt that he couldn't eat a single meatless meal bringing something along for himself to eat (though I must admit, I have yet to meet such a person).

        My daughter eats my cooking at home because a) she likes what I cook and b) she doesn't care to cook herself. She also, by the way, was raised in a vegetarian household (surprise surprise!) and, like most people, likes the food she was raised on and considers it comfort food. Of course, her idea of comfort food includes things like channa masala, Moros y Cristianos, cheese enchiladas with frijoles borrachos, pasta arrabiata and homemade minestrone rather than meatloaf and pork chops, but hey...what can I say? Some of us just like flavorful food.

        I'm not interested in converting anyone, frankly. It's the meat eaters who are getting hostile here...not the vegetarians. As I said earlier, if you find having a vegetarian over for supper threatening, don't invite one. We're hardly planning to turn up on your doorstep uninvited.

        November 16, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
      • Denis

        Meat eaters don’t find vegetarians to be threatening. We find them to be boorish.

        November 17, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
  27. SoylentGreen@Vegans

    EAT ME-Nuff said!

    November 16, 2010 at 12:48 pm |
  28. Vegetotalitarian

    I didn't even see her rash.

    November 16, 2010 at 12:32 pm |
  29. jillmarie

    People who make rash judgements about people they don't know annoy me.

    November 16, 2010 at 11:59 am |
    • RichardHead

      I'm annoyed that your annoyed and That really annoys me!

      November 16, 2010 at 4:33 pm |
  30. deedee

    eeewwwww.... vegetarians. they give me the heebee-geebees. blech!

    November 16, 2010 at 11:44 am |
  31. A stuffing haiku

    In or out of bird?
    The question of the ages
    for cornbread goodness

    November 16, 2010 at 11:38 am |
    • Boozin'


      November 16, 2010 at 11:56 am |
  32. davec

    I understand that vegetarians taste better than the rest of us. So to ahead, have them over for thanksgiving and serve them instead of a ham.

    November 16, 2010 at 11:14 am |
  33. Vegetotalitarian

    I have made it through 4 vegetarian Thanksgivings (I don't eat any meat, eggs, or dairy) and I always find it mildly offensive when people expect the host to fix special food. I know I am the only vegetarian (I am married to an omnivore- gasp!) and I will make sure to bring some food to eat, and share, and I never expect the host to make special arrangements for me. It is rude; I am not allergic to meat, I just choose not to eat it. Besides, I'm saving the calories for booze anyway.

    November 16, 2010 at 10:57 am |
    • Audrey

      I don't "expect" a host to accommodate me. I do, however, make sure that my host KNOWS that I'm a vegetarian so that he or she won't feel awkward (it's a real bummer to labor over your signature dish, only to discover at dinner that your guest can't eat it!). I always offer to bring something, but I would never simply bring my own dish without clearing it with the host first (unless the party were a potluck, of course), as that in and of itself is presumptuous and could be considered rude. When I do bring a dish, I always make sure there's enough to accommodate everyone at the party, vegetarian or not, as it's been my experience that most meat eaters actually LIKE vegetarian fare. I also try to coordinate it with the culinary theme of the dinner party, so it can serves as a pleasant side dish for the meat eaters as well as a main dish for the vegetarians.

      November 16, 2010 at 12:23 pm |
      • TJ

        How about you just stay home and make your own boring T-day dinner. I'm not going to make anything special because you are picky. If you don't like my gravy, butter, milk or any other ingredients I use. STAY HOME FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. How silly. Can't eat this...but oh, wait that I can. Not happening,

        November 16, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
      • Audrey

        TJ, you're assuming that vegetarians are going to invite themselves over to your place for dinner. I don't know about you, but I never go where I'm not invited.

        If you are going to invite someone who has dietary restrictions, however, whether those restrictions are due to health issues, religion, personal conviction, or simple preference, a good host would make some attempt to accommodate those restrictions...even if the only way he or she feels it can be done is by inviting the individual to bring something he or she can eat. If you don't care to do so, then the answer is simple...just don't invite that person.

        If you had a Jewish or Muslim friend over, would you suggest that person just suck it up and eat the ham and the bacon-laced green beans? Would you tell a lactose-intolerant friend that, if he's not willing to put whipped cream on his pie and butter on his mashed potatoes, he's not welcome?

        I'm not bothered by being around people eating meat, and I don't sit in judgment on people because of their dietary needs or choices. Why do you insist on doing so? How are our choices harming you in any way? If a particular vegetarian is rude to you because you're not a vegetarian, then you have every right to tell him or her to stuff it, but being so hostile toward an entire class of people just because you don't share their lifestyle choices really is more than a bit over the top.

        November 16, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
  34. jillmarie

    Audrey, your dinner sounds delicious! As a vegetarian, I never expect anyone to make something special for me. That said, I love Kat's suggestion to have meat-free stuffing and vegetables on hand- those items, plus mashed potatoes are what I look forward to!
    My husband's cousin hosts a catered dinner where the stuffing has sausage, so I make my own and bring it. And Thanksgiving wouldn't be the same without Brussels sprouts cooked to perfection!

    November 16, 2010 at 10:49 am |
    • OPoe

      Same here, and I always offer to bring things to help out. Fortunately there are a lot of vegetarians in my family so it's never an issue. It's just 'come on over, kick your feet up, and enjoy the company!'

      November 16, 2010 at 12:45 pm |
  35. Jim

    sorry.. mishit the button.. anyway.. this is the first time I have seen this.. understand it is probably annoying if it has been posted more than once.. but have to say.. I am still laughing.. hilarious.. definitely buying this one for stocking stuffers

    November 16, 2010 at 10:40 am |
  36. Audrey

    We're vegetarians (ovo-lacto), and our Thanksgiving dinner usually consists of cornbread and wild rice stuffing (not just stuffing cubes moistened with vegetable stock, but the real deal, with onion, celery, plenty of sage, and vegetarian "sausage" (or, as my daughter calls it, "soysage")), mashed potatoes, brown gravy, green beans amandine, roasted Brussels sprouts with hazelnuts and pumpkin pie. Yum! I'm getting hungry already!

    When we're invited to dinner, we always make sure the host knows up front that we're vegetarians, and offer to bring a dish (usually the aforementioned stuffing, which even the meat eaters go crazy for)

    November 16, 2010 at 10:27 am |
    • MeatEater

      Shut up, seriously. Bla Bla Bla.

      November 16, 2010 at 11:58 am |
      • Audrey

        Yeah...we certainly can't have vegetarians weighing in on a column that, among other things, advises people how to accommodate vegetarians at Thanksgiving. The very nerve of us, anyway!

        November 16, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
      • Jdizzle McHammerpants

        Have you offered the option to your daughter to choose turkey and gravy as well? Or do you rule her diet with an iron fist? Maybe she wants to try it, unless you've brainwashed her into "how bad it is".

        November 16, 2010 at 12:47 pm |
      • Wooze

        I have never understood why omnivores are so often threatened and offended by the fact that some people don't eat what they eat. I'm not threatened by meat-eaters. Or offended by people who eat eggs.

        As for whether this woman has offered her children turkey or not, would you expect someone who keeps kosher to offer her child shrimp? People make decisions about what their children eat all the time.

        As for vegetarianism or veganism being a pain in the patoot, I've been vegie for nearly 20 years now, and I have never regretted the decision or felt the least bit deprived.

        November 16, 2010 at 3:04 pm |
    • OPoe

      That sounds really good :-)

      November 16, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
    • PhilipShade

      Jdizzle have you offered your children the option of being a vegetarian or have you brainwashed them into thinking eating meat is normal.

      November 16, 2010 at 5:15 pm |
    • Josh

      How do you make mashed potatoes or brown gravy without animal products?

      November 16, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
      • Josh

        I should rephrase that. I meant GOOD brown gravy and mashed potatoes.

        November 16, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
      • Audrey

        I make rustic mashed potatoes from Yukon gold potatoes with really high-quality olive oil and rosemary. Though, not being a vegan, I certainly have no problem with mashed potatoes made with cream and butter...I just happen to like this recipe.

        I will admit to making the gravy from a mix (Hain, if anyone's curious), as making vegetarian gravy from scratch really IS a pain in the ass (it's tasty, if you want to go to the trouble, but it's way beyond the simple "make a roux and season it" approach). That said, though, it IS good...and fwiw, I never was very good at making gravy from scratch when I ate meat either (gravy or pie crust...flour hates me). But I'm sure there are more than a few meat-eating cooks out there who resort to shortcuts as well.

        Hain brown gravy mix is widely available (and a packet is still less than a buck)...give it a try and judge for yourself whether it's "good" or not.

        November 16, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
    • Nic

      Audrey you come here with a subtle but obviously pretentious attitude towards omnivores and act surprised that people are giving you a hard time. Its not a matter of the larger public being hostile towards vegans and vegeterians but that a handful of veggie-snobs find any way they can to stick the proverbial middle finger up at omnivore types and instantly play the victim card when insults come back their way. This isn't to say that some omnivores aren't also jerks but Audrey you are obviously one of the pretentious types and it shows on here. I could go either way and regularly eat vegan meals but often eat meat as well. I never argue with people or go on long rants about how awesome I am for eating vegan ever.. it just tastes good. Maybe when you finish trying to rub it in everyone's face for yet another year you can take the time to stand back and wonder exactly what it is you are saying that provokes people... because it's pretty obvious to me that your are about as pretentious as they come.. subtle or not.

      November 22, 2010 at 12:38 pm |
      • Sanderlina

        You're a dimwit.

        November 24, 2010 at 10:45 am |
  37. John D

    Why would anyone invite a vegan to Thanksgiving? It's just not worth it.

    November 16, 2010 at 10:01 am |
    • Snow

      Be nice now. They can come over and have everything else I serve except for the turkey, right? If there's a dish they'd like to bring in place of the turkey, they'd be welcome to do so. :)

      November 16, 2010 at 10:17 am |
      • Audrey

        It would depend on how you prepare the sides (Is there ham or bacon in the green beans? Butter in the mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes? Giblets, sausage or chicken broth in the stuffing? Lard in the pie crust?). How easy or difficult it is depends on the type of vegetarian you're hosting (vegan, lacto or ovo-lacto), and to what lengths you're willing to go to tailor your usual recipes.

        November 16, 2010 at 10:33 am |
    • Audrey

      Maybe because that person is a dear friend or family member, and the person hosting the dinner would rather go to a bit of trouble for the pleasure of having that person there rather than miss his or her presence at the holiday table? Just sayin.'

      Not everyone is a jerk to people whose lifestyle he/she chooses not to emulate.

      November 16, 2010 at 10:21 am |
      • Boozin'

        Sounds like a pain in thee ass to be a vegetarian. Just sayin'

        November 16, 2010 at 11:09 am |
    • Josh

      Of course they're invited. They should just bring their own food. My mashed potatoes will be made with cream and butter, the dressing will have some turkey juice in it, the veggies are roasted with the turkey, and my corn is bathing in butter.

      November 16, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
    • D-mac

      Interesting perspective. Do you feel the same amount other minorities?

      November 17, 2010 at 2:31 pm |
    • Jaime

      Actually, I have a vegetarian friend who invites everyone else over. And yes, she cooks a turkey. Don't mistake all vegetarians as that self-righteous type that nag and berate the meat eaters of the world.

      November 17, 2010 at 7:37 pm |
    • Veganman

      Most of the Vegans I know will be staying home. I don't understand what the big deal is. It's just another Thursday.

      November 18, 2010 at 7:29 am |
  38. penneeder

    alright, carter, whoever you are, you have been posting about this f-ing book over and over again not to mention on other websites like bon appetite and i'm sure others. seriously, shut up about it. you must have written it or know the person who wrote it or have some sort of monetary involvement in it to continually market it over and over and over again. we get the point.

    November 16, 2010 at 9:51 am |
    • Bunny

      HA HA! I was thinking the same thing. And sorry.. but the app's he keeps posting about want to make me gag!

      November 16, 2010 at 10:15 am |
  39. Meghan

    wow – trolls are awake early today. guys, you know daylight isn't good for you. go back under the bridge and contemplate your navel. I'm sure you'll feel much better!

    November 16, 2010 at 8:32 am |
    • TC

      Glad you said it. :)

      November 16, 2010 at 9:15 am |
  40. jim

    careful of turkeys

    November 16, 2010 at 8:00 am |
  41. the goat

    "Kat," (horrible name, by the way) you self-entitled rube. You sound like the problematic one in your family. I feel sorry for them. No wonder Uncle Stu is passed out.

    November 16, 2010 at 5:10 am |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants

      Don't talk to our fearless leader this way. Too early in the day to be this angry at the world, man. Strike a match and light that bong, dude!

      November 16, 2010 at 9:16 am |
    • some people...

      you do realize you're talking to an actual person, right? not a machine? Why do you find it necessary to be so pedantic and mean? I would assume that the one attacking without provocation is more likely the problematic one, rather than the one who is trying to help people deal with holiday stress. I would suggest you notify your Thanksgiving host/guests of this bahavior- you should give people the opportunity to opt out.
      On that note, thanks Kat. Pay no attention to the coward behind the curtain.

      November 16, 2010 at 9:39 am |
    • Truth@Goat

      You are obviously a liberal, as you are full of hate and ignorance. Lay off Kat or we will have to hurt you.

      November 16, 2010 at 9:47 am |
    • Snow

      @ the goat- why post if your just going to be an ass?

      November 16, 2010 at 10:14 am |
    • Kat Kinsman

      Aaaaand a lovely morning to you, too, Sir! I'll have a chat with my parents and my dearly departed Great Aunt Katherine about a super-quick re-naming. What in the WORLD were they thinking?

      November 16, 2010 at 10:33 am |
      • RichardHead

        How's the back feeling this morning?

        November 16, 2010 at 11:05 am |
      • Kat Kinsman

        Aw – thanks for asking. Still hurts a lot, but I'm trying not to let it get me down.

        November 16, 2010 at 11:49 am |
    • RichardHead

      Dang,this dude was up early to post this. The 3 musketeers are sharpening their sabers to defend the besmirchment of our Fearless Leader.

      November 16, 2010 at 10:49 am |
    • blah9999

      I'm confused. Why are you insulting Kat?

      November 24, 2010 at 12:45 pm |
  42. tedT

    Your preoccupation with Thanksgiving and food is discusting and boring. Millions are starving in the world
    and you ignore their plight. Is CNN donating anything to the poor and hungry?

    November 16, 2010 at 5:02 am |
    • some people...

      you knew what this was when you clicked on it. Maybe next time you'll choose a more suitable categry, such as "self-righteous people debate over who gave more to charity" or "people who constantly talk about the ill in this world when there is so much to be grateful for".

      November 16, 2010 at 9:44 am |
      • Snow

        I 2nd that! What a downer..

        November 16, 2010 at 10:11 am |
      • Jerv

        Thank you, took the words right out of my mouth.

        November 16, 2010 at 1:19 pm |
    • RedinAustin

      Going to be alone on Thanksgiving or with a family you hate?

      November 16, 2010 at 1:22 pm |
    • adidasking

      It is an article about food, what were you expecting? And the article is under the Eatocracy section. Why not take $5 and go but yourself a clue

      November 18, 2010 at 1:16 pm |
    • Kody

      I wish they'd go ahead and starve already i'm so tired of having to worry about everyone else plight. Fix your own problems wusses!

      November 24, 2010 at 1:42 pm |
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